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Help suspected subsidence - what to do?

(11 Posts)
nobabiesyet Tue 14-Jan-20 13:28:09

Advice please from any one who has had this. My parents' house has developed some very large cracks in multiple rooms. It seems likely to be that it is subsidence. I know some other houses in the area have had this - googled it. It's a clay soil area.
I want to encourage them to invesitgate it and take appropriate action before it gets too bad. Should they first ring their insurers or should they get a survey? Unsure what is first step. I'm worried they are burying their head in the sand. Don;t want to do the wrong thing first? They are definite large cracks and a bit of the back garden seems to have 'sunk' in. Thank you for advice.

zonkin Tue 14-Jan-20 13:36:12

They need to call their insurers.

nobabiesyet Tue 14-Jan-20 13:37:19

Thanks Zonkin. Has this happened to you? If so what happened. thanks

Peridot1 Tue 14-Jan-20 13:43:49

Insurers definitely.

Has recently happened to MIL. She had quite a few cracks and then a portion of the ceiling in one room came down and she called in a builder. He said it all needed investigation and advised insurers. It’s been a long drawn out process.

But they definitely need to get in to the insurance company before anything else. They will send in their engineers to investigate etc.

With MIL it seemed to have been the drains which took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with specialists and the water board etc etc.

nobabiesyet Tue 14-Jan-20 13:50:37

Thank you very much

nobabiesyet Tue 14-Jan-20 14:42:00

Anyone else?

JoHarrison Thu 16-Jan-20 08:09:42

Definitely insurers in this case. Your comment about the sinking back garden suggests subsidence very strongly (just cracks in the house could be caused by myriad other things, but that's not the case here).
You'd pay the best part of £1000 for a structural engineers report to tell you "suspected subsidence and further investigations needed" - so I'd just crack on the the insurers who will deal with it all. Don't expect a fast resolution though - it will be months / years of monitoring and negotiation. I hope they weren't planning to move any time soon!

JoHarrison Thu 16-Jan-20 09:19:12

Also the longer that they leave it, the more explaining they'll have to do to the insurance company about why they didn't contact them sooner.
If it goes past the renewal date of the insurance, technically they might not be covered as it might be a treated as a new policy for which they've not declared a material fact i.e. existing cracking.

mumwon Thu 16-Jan-20 17:11:45

insurance - they will probably have to pay excess (deep breath its usually £1000) but the longer they leave the worse it gets - question - can you see the cracks inside & outside the house? do they go right up the wall & how wide are they? Do they have any trees nearby like willows or poplars (like within 50ft for the ##### poplars) do they have any fruit trees etc - we have had a very hot & at times dry summer -than we have had severe rain. It could also be collapsed drain. Thing is the £1000 you pay will be the complete figure & you wont be charged anything more- We had the kitchen repainted & retiled (which was nice because it was a bit old) they told us a figure for the tiles & we went out & chose some - & they repainted the entire house outside (textured walls) & knocked down 2 trees they believed caused the problem.

BubblesBuddy Thu 16-Jan-20 17:51:51

Where are the cracks? On clay, this can mean heave. This is where the soil is waterlogged and is pushing the house upwards and outwards. Cracks usually appear on the join of the ceiling and walls. Trees drink water. When they are cut down, the water they would have drunk stays in the soil. This does not cause subsidence. It causes heave. Subsidence is where the soil has dried out to such an extent that the house collapses onto its foundations as they are insufficient to cope with the changes in soil conditions.

Subidence cracks are often more vertical. Or they snake across a wall. Often cracking bricks vertically. At worst, you can see part of the house is drooping a bit around doors and windows, for example.

Therefore contact the insurance company. They should send out a structural engineer to evaluate what the problem is. However, do make sure the engineer is fully qualified (MIStructE) and has experience of this type of work. Do not accept someone who is just guessing!

zonkin Fri 17-Jan-20 18:28:43

Sorry for the late reply. Subsidence has happened to us. Insurance were really good with it. Completely redecorated after the work etc. Our excess for subsidence has increased for future claims (to £1000 per claim). But insurance have been monitoring it for years and there are no signs of further insurance. Needless to say, I haven't changed insurer!

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